Victorino slugged a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. The blast would put the Red Sox into their third World Series since 2004. They won the previous two.
In an emotional on-field interview, Victorino recounted how he had been struggling throughout the ALCS and was merely looking for a pitch he could put in play to tie the game. He got a hanging breaking ball from Jose Veras and drove it well over the Green Monster in left field, then rounded the bases in delirious joy. Six Tiger outs later, Victorino was personally heading to the World Series for the third time since 2008, the previous two while in Philadelphia.
Victorino spoke of a special group of guys in the Red Sox clubhouse, each of whom had contributed to the American League pennant. He went on mentioned a special group of guys in Philly he'll never forget. Then he returned to the Boston moment.
It was a great gesture from the Flyin' Hawaiian who was part of the most successful period in Phillies history, 2007-11. He spent eight seasons in Philadelphia, emerging as one of the best all-around center fielders of his time. His grand slam off CC Sabathia, then of the Milwaukee Brewers, in the 2008 National League Division Series helped the Phillies take the first step to the second world championship in their history.
It's not the first time Victorino has referenced the Phillies since signing with the Red Sox this season. He was a big part of the Philadelphia community, working with underprivileged kids through his foundation. But it's more than that. Several guys who have moved on still talk fondly about those glory years. Jayson Werth and Jamie Moyer went elsewhere and made references to the great days in Philly. Cliff Lee left a lot of New York Yankees money on the table to come back to Philadelphia because he enjoyed it so much.
It's a great bunch of teammates -- Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick. They remain as the stalwarts from the glory days, assuming the free agent Ruiz returns next season. Some may believe the Phillies should have let go of most of them and started fresh. It's difficult to do because they've won in the past and they've represented the organization so well. It's difficult not to hope some of that magic is still around for one more run at a championship.
I don't know how many Phillies fans will watch the World Series and pull for Victorino to bring home another championship ring. It wasn't easy to watch Pat Burrell, another of that special group of guys in Philly, go out and win one with the San Francisco Giants in 2010 after the Giants had beaten the Phillies in the National League Championship Series. Burrell came home a year and a half later to sign a one-day contract and retire with the Phillies, where he belonged.
Victorino will do the same one day. So will Werth. Both were virtual castoffs when they joined the Phillies. Both became stars in Philadelphia. Both have flourished elsewhere. But they still talk about their Philly days.
There was just something about that team.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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